Longtime GSU employee, resident remembered

Funeral services for Julius Dewitt Penn was held Friday, June 5 in Hyattsville, Maryland. Julius or J.D. was what he was affectionately called by his family and friends. Born February 13, 1924 in Frederick, Okla., Mr. Penn began his educational journey in Oklahoma City.

While in high school, he was a member of the National Honor Society, band, football, track, and baseball teams. Penn continued his education at Dillard University in New Orleans where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and accounting. He became one of Dillard’s outstanding football players and was one of the first freshmen in the school’s history to become team captain.

J.D. served his country during World War II, as a soldier in the United States Army. During this time, he became a candidate for the Tuskegee Aviation Cadet School (Tuskegee Airman). However, due to a minor medical condition, he was unable to attend. He continued to serve his country. Before being honorably discharged, he received two ribbons, two medals, and a Silver Star. He also received a Gold Football for a game played in the Netherlands.

In August of 1963, Penn came to what then was Grambling College as an assistant professor of accounting. In 1964, the administration decided that a computer center was needed. J.D. took on this monumental task. He attended the School of IBM at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and then with the combined efforts of IBM, developed the computing center for what is now Grambling State University.

In 1965, he was named first director and served in that capacity until he was named the director of the Information Resource Center in which he served until his retirement on August 31, 1995.

J.D. leaves a wife of 55 years, Pearl Etta Williams Penn of Oklahoma City. Ronnie Lloyd of Pigard, Oregon; Byron Penn, New Orleans; and Lori Penn Walthour of Alexandria, Va. He was the grandfather of 10, and a host of great grandchildren. He also leaves behind many relatives, friends and the members of the New Rocky Valley Baptist Church where he served as a deacon.

These are a but a few of the many accomplishments of Julius D. Penn and these accomplishments occurred in an era where an African American was not supposed to succeed. He took on every challenge and surmounted every obstacle. We thank God for the pleasure of having Julius Dewitt Penn in our lives as a husband, father, grandfather, and a friend.